2004 Science Fiction Hall of Fame
A life well lived.
That was apparent about Harry Harrison even when a gaggling, goggling bunch of San Diego fans became aware of his august presence in Imperial Beach in the late 1960s. We descended upon him, pestered him and his wife, Joan, asked stupid questions, learned at his feet.
He enjoyed it all hugely, and so did we.
Harry was a consummate professional writer, we’d read his books, and with little or no hesitation, he welcomed us into his home--many who would go on to help found San Diego Comic-Con, but at that point were truly snot-nosed kids, full of opinions--which Harry was perfectly happy to listen to, then gently but firmly correct. He and Joan sponsored fabulous curry dinners, held forth at local conventions, invited my friend David Clark and me, destitute fans, to join them for dessert during the banquet and awards ceremony at the 1968 Baycon... Held court with visiting dignitaries--including Harry’s good friend Brian Aldiss--and, in 1970, taught a pioneering class in science fiction at San Diego State College.
Greg Bear, Brian Aldiss, and Harry Harrison
His manner--a lively machine-gun delivery of well-chosen words--was so distinctive that we all had our imitations. His accessibility, example, and savoir faire helped shape my life.
Harry Harrison’s CV was very full indeed. Besides his many striking novels and stories, he had worked as an artist for EC Comics, and so fit right into the future Comic-Con crowd. He had traveled extensively in Europe, spoke a number of languages well enough to get around and order food and beer, loved world literature, joined the Science Fiction Writers of America--and then left--multiple times...
Wonderful man, fine writer. Vivid, high-energy opinions. Strong influence.
And I’m proud to say, friend and colleague.
Here are a couple of photos from the 2004 Science Fiction Hall of Fame ceremonies in Lawrence, Kansas, the last time I got together with both Brian and Harry.
Condolences to all who knew and loved him.
Harry Harrison, Gregory Benford, and Brian Aldiss